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Does the rise of chatbots mean the death of telephony?

With customer experience via artificial intelligence (AI) at the forefront of conversation at the recent iProspect Future Focus event, we’re talking a look at the historical method of communication telephony vs today’s modern chatbot services.

First things first, let us introduce the contenders…

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is an AI messaging service which imitate human conversations over live chats on company websites and messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger.

What is hosted telephony?

Hosted telephony is a cloud-based phone solution hosted in an enterprise-grade data centre, eliminating the need for telephone system hardware and resulting in lower costs due to no upfront costs and no maintenance costs.

Hosted telephone services are via ethernet internet or a converged fibre broadband service, once in the business it uses the same wiring as your company data network.

You can read more about hosted telephony with TSG’s ‘An introduction to telephone systems in the cloud’ blog.

Future-focused methods of customer communication

Customers are constantly connected, looking for an almost seamless customer experience and the most competitive prices available.

If a product hasn’t been reviewed or shared on social media, ordered via Alexa or had a discount code applied, then that service has most likely not been made available by a company. This leaves it to competitors to provide, resulting in the inevitable potential loss of a conversion for the original company.

It is in a company’s best interest to keep up-to-date with the latest digital trends in order to continually provide customers with the instant gratification they desire; but what methods should you use and why? Let us shine some light on two of the most popular methods of communication: telephony and chatbots.

Hosted telephony

This traditional method of communication comes with a range of advantages when dealing with customers. Not only does telephony communication provide customers with the opportunity to have real-time, two-way communication, it also provides a personable experience favoured by many.

Gamma Horizon hosted telephony provides companies with the following telephony communication pros to go head-to-head with digital’s chatbot giants:

  • Simple and futureproof
  • Geography no longer a constraint
  • Disaster recovery-ready
  • Minimal capital expenditure
  • Ongoing support
  • Potential for savings
  • Truly mobile business
  • Fully managed service
  • Seamless migration

Chatbot pros and cons

With the aim of meeting customer needs via the internet in an ever-changing digital world, chatbots are speculated to form up to 85% of business customer service by 2020. It’s clear to see the appeal with instant messaging and company savings.

Chatbot communication pros

  • It is estimated that chatbots will save a monumental $8 billion by 2020
  • 24/7 access to FAQs
  • Automated messaging
  • Instant response
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Unlimited customer handling
  • Zero human errors
  • No geographical constraint

Like all methods of communication, chatbots come with downsides that need to be taken into consideration, such as not being able to answer all customer queries, which only qualified experts with in-depth knowledge can answer.

This is yet to be developed, but who’s to say that isn’t something that is already being addressed as you read this?

With 61% of customers preferring to choose a chatbot over a human for instant answers, we are left wondering what the future has in store for historic methods of communication.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) states that 90% of households in Great Britain had internet access in 2017. This still leaves 10% of UK households without internet access, making telephony communication one of the only methods of contact to the 10%.  

TSG recommends a wide communication strategy that includes, but is not limited to, telephony to ensure you can meet all of your customers’ needs in their preferred way.

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